Randomly Related Slightly Salient Stuff 12

Have an episode on Superman’s characterization ready to record, but didn’t have time to this weekend (we got to see Hamilton).

While I’m eagerly anticipating Suicide Squad, I’m not intending to do marketing material breakdowns like with Batman v. Superman.  I’ve got my hands full already with BvS for now.  I’ll probably do at least one related episode before it comes out though.

Anyways, in the meantime, here’s some RRSSS:

Stop, Look, Listen (Criticism) | Where There’s Smoke

Meta-commentary on criticism abounds with the mixed reception of a highly anticipated film and I spoke on my approach last episode.  I was incredibly encouraged listening to this episode which endorses a similar approach:

“Criticism seems to be running rampant in our world these days. This week, we ask some important questions: Why do we seem more interested in tearing others down than building them up? What is the deal with this plague of criticism in our world? Why do we do it? And what does it cost us? Then we turn our sights to the alternatives to criticism. How can we alter our behaviour, inspire change, and build relationships?”

If you want to encourage an outlook that helps you and those around you, I highly recommend giving this episode a listen.

As a companion on critical reception, consider listening to RadioLab’s On The Edge

At the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, one athlete pulled a move that, so far as we know, no one else had ever done in all of human history.

Surya Bonaly was not your typical figure skater.  She was black. She was athletic. And she didn’t seem to care about artistry.  Her performances – punctuated by triple-triple jumps and other power moves – thrilled audiences around the world.  Yet, commentators claimed she couldn’t skate, and judges never gave her the high marks she felt she deserved.  But Surya didn’t accept that criticism.  Unlike her competitors – ice princesses who hid behind demure smiles – Surya made her feelings known.  And, at her final Olympic performance, she attempted one jump that flew in the face of the establishment, and marked her for life as a rebel.

This week, we lace up our skates and tell a story about loving a sport that doesn’t love you back, and being judged in front of the world according to rules you don’t understand.

In our characterization episode we talk about how even those with incredible execution can feel the weight of criticism.

Justice League Universe Podcast | Sam Otten

Sam Otten has a great scene-by-scene DC Films Justice League Universe podcast that’s starting with Batman v. Superman and topical issues.

In this podcast, I share my analysis of each scene in the Warner Brothers movies that are part of the DC Films Justice League Universe, which started with Man of Steel and expanded with Batman v Superman. I love the depth of meaning in these films and I love discussing them with other fans.

Sam also shares his thoughts and has additional discussions on YouTube.  If you love the JLU and enjoy deep and literary styled analysis, you should check out Sam’s content.

How deterrence is changing, explained by Defense Secretary Ash Carter | Vox

My view of Senator Finch is that while she is raising the concerns and costs about Superman’s actions, she ultimately is optimistic that a conversation will bring clarity and solve the situation.  Otherwise she would have had to prepare contingencies.  Here, Defense Secretary Carter explains why that’s a reasonable position and how deterrence alone doesn’t work and why communication does.  It’s a real-world expression of why Senator Finch was right and why it made sense for her to turn down Lex.

Speaking about the importance of conversation, check out this episode, Beyond Tolerance, from the TED Radio Hour on the importance of opening dialog between differing positions and views.  Not necessarily to change your position but at least your attitudes towards those on the other side of the issue, perhaps sharing more in common outside the issue than you think.

Myths and Legends Podcast | Jason Weiser

Batman v. Superman is filled with literary references.  Many of theme steeped in mythology, legend, and folklore.  If you want a greater appreciation for those references and the heroes of the past, I suggest checking out this storytelling podcast.

Ever wonder about the original stories behind King Arthur and his legendary knights, Robin Hood, or Aladdin?
Did you know that fairy tales weren’t originally for children and are way more bizarre, ridiculous, and interesting than you ever thought possible?
Maybe you’ve heard of characters like Thor, Odin, and Hercules from modern movies- stories stretching back centuries. Well, the originals that inspired the adaptations are even better.
This is a weekly podcast telling legendary stories as closely to the originals as possible. Some are incredibly popular stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories that might be new to you, but are definitely worth a listen.
These are stories of magic, kings, Vikings, dragons, knights, princesses, and wizards from a time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous, wonderful, and terrifying place.

One of the things that you will appreciate fairly quickly is that our traditional myths and legends rarely feared presenting fallible heroes, tragedy, and darkness.  King Arthur, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, and more have historically not been the Disney family-friendly versions.  You see a pattern with the approach to myth and wonder if traditions that are hundreds to thousands of years old may contain wisdom and reason in their ways, not found in our more saccharine modern-day storytelling.

To get you started, some episodes on Prometheus, Icarus, and King Arthur.

References abound with Le Morte d’Arthur, Moby Dick, the Wizard of Oz, A Streetcar Named Desire, Lolita, Frankenstein’s Monster, Prometheus, Star Wars, James Bond, A Balance of Terror, Christopher Wren, Alice in Wonderland, Mark of Zorro, Banksy… and more!

How Feasible Is Rebuilding Japan After Godzilla Attacks | Nerdometrics

FINAL CONCLUSION: Rebuilding Japan in the wake of Giant Monster Attacks is at no times infeasible – in fact it’s pretty darn realistic.

What Kind of Person Becomes a Violent Jihadi | The Inquiry

In the comments for last episode we had a brief discussion on whether Lex Luthor could be diagnosed as a psychopath or not.  I found this report particularly salient to that discussion:

For decades researchers, academics and psychologists have wanted to know what kind of person becomes a terrorist, and if there are pre-existing traits which make someone more likely to kill for their beliefs.

This edition of The Inquiry, part of the BBC World Service Identity season, tells the story of the search for a ‘terrorist type’. With the threat from the so-called Islamic State, finding an answer has never felt more pressing. The Inquiry hears a chilling answer – that it could be anyone.

The episode begins with the historical efforts at trying to tie mental illness with militants and then moving on as studies showed otherwise.  Next they tried to pin it to radical devotion but found that many couldn’t pass even basic doctrinal tests about their beliefs.  Next they looked to social-economic profiles.  In short, it’s easy to want to put anti-social behavior in a box and write it off as mental illness or manic fundamentalism, but the research hasn’t borne that out.

Speaking about Lex Luthor, you might enjoy the 99% Invisible (a show about design) episode Supertall 101 talking about Taipei 101, the issues and reasons behind building tall.  To give you some of the insight into Lex’s planning, ambition, and statement to the world.

In Defense of Ignorance | This American Life

Act One and Act Two of this episode seem more salient than the rest.  In Act One, a Beautiful Lie, Lulu Wang tells the story of an elaborate attempt to keep her grandmother ignorant of her own terminal diagnosis.  In Act Two, we revisit the Dunning Kruger effect, something we’ve spoken before of in evaluating judgment.

This episode of Reply All, Decoders, is not particularly salient except that it includes a segment with Adam West and discusses Batman’s pop-culture portrayal in the past.

The Power And Problem Of Grit | Hidden Brain

An episode exploring the idea of grit… the persistence of sticking with things, the cost, suffering, and bitterness of that… but also the reward and how it relates to success. You can see parallels in how the Kents raised Clark and how this cinematic approach reveals his grit as not pure endurance and success, but the costs involved.

Superman (Five for Fighting cover) | Mike Massé

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  1. “I’m not intending to do marketing material breakdowns like with Batman v. Superman.”

    So no episode for the latest trailer?

  2. It´s my honest opinion that the internet is way too obsessed with how films and and so on are marketed that what they turn out to be about in the end!
    Acknowledging the main trailers or canonically important promotional material has it´s purpose but the main meal needs to be the actual product and that it is where web-published “puff piece editorials” usually fail me and where Doc succeeds. 1+ hour(s) trailer discussion = No (unless it is the first…)
    4+ hours on a universally misunderstood 5 min. long tornado sequence (i loved the science btw!) = Yes

  3. Oh wow, another actual examination of BvS and it´s themes: Batman V Superman:
    How Zack Snyder Told One of Superman’s Greatest Stories
    We may get an actual discussion going after enough time has passed to digest the film and more people accept that the DCU is on a set narrative arc.

    • Wow, thanks for that link. I’d given up on that site, but that was a fantastic analysis. It’s pretty amazing that this movie has been trashed so widely yet it has inspired so many thoughtful analyses, and is able to be interpreted in so many ways. I doubt you get that from Guardians of the Galaxy, which is an insipid movie yet enjoys near univeral praise.

      I read through as many of the commmenst as I could stomach, but I wanted to share this from the poster “Thrace” because it’s an angle I hadn’t seen mentioned in any of the articles I’ve read about the film:

      “And while I think everyone who hated the “martha” scene is perfectly entitled to that opinion, I think the bulk of detractors ignore the flashback Batman had at that moment of his mother as she was dying. I heard one prominent reviewer on a different site go on and on as if Batman’s sole motivation for all of a sudden not wanting to kill Superman was because their mothers had the same name. Even if you didn’t like the execution of that scene, that is wildly ludicrous misrepresentation of what happened. The flashback really came off to me as Batman realizing he had switched places…he was now the gunman and Superman was that scared little boy just trying to save his mother. That realization spoke volumes to me about why he was able to “switch sides” in regards to Superman.”

      I didn’t see it that way at all either time I saw the movie, but this is a really interesting way of looking at it. It reminds me a bit of the Justice Lords episode of JLU where our Batman convinces the other Batman that he’s becoming the same bad guy he’s been fighting against all this time.

      Anyway, still amazed that people can’t see that this Superman is so true to the character and is just being put through a different set of circumstances than we are used to seeing him put through. Thanks again for the link.

      • The Martha scene, I believe, was the seminal moment when Batman realized that he had transformed into what he has abhorred all along. He was accusing Superman of having the potential to transform into a “bad person”, yet he himself was becoming one. Everyone is indeed entitled to their opinion, taste is subjective, and reasonable minds will differ, but the amount of people that misinterpret that scene leaves me Superdumbfounded…

        “still amazed that people can’t see that this Superman is so true to the character and is just being put through a different set of circumstances than we are used to seeing him put through.”

        I still sustain that we’re all entitled to our opinions, so what I’m about to write is my own perspective, but back with MoS and now with BvS I continue to claim that Snyder’s Superman is the best representation to date:

        Out of all the Superman adaptations to date, from the classical George Reeves and Christopher Reeve to the Animated series and “Smallville” show, none of those had it in them to use their abilities to constantly and continuously help people way before they sported the Superman suit, they didn’t became Superman until after putting the Suit. Whereas Henry Cavill’s Superman is the only one who was willing to abandon his safe home, his own identity, and even jeopardize his own safety for others way before he discovered his origins and sported the Superman suit, he was Superman way before putting the Suit. (It’s true that that could also apply to the “Smallville” Clark Kent to some extent, but I still place Cavill’s Superman above him because unlike Tom Welling’s version, Henry’s Clark Kent started his journey and struggled all by himself, he didn’t gained any ’allies’ of sorts until later in his life, and even then he only had one: Lois)

        Snyder said “I didn’t changed Superman”, but as long as I’m concerned, he improved Superman.

        • It occurs to me that detractors of the movie tend to fall into one of three camps: “Zack Snyder Haters For Life!”; “That’s Not MY Superman!”; and “It’s not FUN!” Unfortunately, all the reasoning and analysis in the world isn’t going to sway any of those camps to be open-minded enough to consider this movie for what it is instead of what they expect. Perhaps some of them will watch it again in a few years with a new perspective and see it differently. But it’s a shame that an already challenging movie, that really requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate, comes out of the gate with so many people having already decided not to give it a chance. The movie really deserved better.

          But I’m probably most disappointed in the critics. This seems like the kind of movie that they would historically appreciate – one that doesn’t talk down to the audience and that tackles big themes and ideas and takes them seriously. I get the sense that they are the ones with the “superhero fatigue” and have pretty much decided that they can accept the superhero movies that don’t take themselves too seriously, that present themselves as popcorn fare or straight out comedies, and leave the serious stuff to the Oscar bait.

          I truly believe (or at least truly hope) that in 10 or 15 years the generation of kids who are just too young to see it or grasp it now will discover this movie and be amazed at what they were allowed to do within the confines of the genre yet with a big budget. I think those are the ones who will be the true beneficiaries of the accomplishments made here.

        • Bruce turned into Joe Chill throughout the film and was about to gleefully murder a man, for the crime of beging “less than human”. It´s a pretty ballsy move to have the newly introduced protagonist of a film /franchsise (BvS is a Superman film/sequel through the eyes of Batman) not even acknowledge the basic humanity in his opponent. Bruce quoted and went further than Miller (DKR Batman was a possitive figure after all) and called Clark an animal. He accused him of being incapable of higher emotions/vales but was than faced with the realization that Clark has parents, people who love/defend him, while Bruce has been reduced to a shell of a man. (A Batman: Year 2 done right if you want.) Clark´s 2nd utterance of “Martha” should have included her last name, to form a proper sentence and give Bruce instruction, but the scene was a clear highlight. Zack´s team dug deep to find a connection between the 2 icons and i still can´t believe that none else ever used such a blatant link.

          Fun “fact”: The RT score just dropped to a 27% and is now half of MoS. Lol. 855 mil. and counting though! The film will soon have made more than all of WB´s offerings of 2015 combined. Not bad for a mass market inappropriate revenge-thriller (what is this film´s genre btw, Watchmen in reverse ?) about a PTSD ridden vigilante.
          The Ultimate Cut is lastly exactly 30 min. longer.

          @Phil Dunlap Snyder´s vision is 90s Superman, minus the curl, and will soon be DC Rebirth Superman. He couldn´t have gotten him more right. Let´s hope for longer hair in JL!

          • I like to think that both are the protagonists of the film/franchise. Not only because Superman started the universe, but because it is his presence alone what triggered all what’s happening. And while this film is what Cavill said it was: A film to introduce Batman and the rest of the JL, I still sustain that at the end of the “Justice League” film next year Superman will be recognized as the first among equals, assuming he isn’t already.

            “what is this film´s genre btw, Watchmen in reverse ?”

            Maybe. I think that is like the Doctor pointed out time ago in an old post, the impact of both Dr. Manhattan and Superman are as different as night and day, while both encompass the real-world impact of a legitimate and powerful super-being with national leanings, that’s where the comparison stops because the characters are different, both in the scope of their powers and the nature of their humanity. In the cynical world of the Watchmen, the advent of the superman leads to a twisted future suspended by a lie. In the more realistic world of BvS, the advent of the superman leads to a dawn of justice created by the truth.

  4. Wait, another one showed up: ‘Batman v Superman’: Why Its Political Message Makes It the Most Powerful Superhero Film Ever
    Nolan´s films were pretty “relevant” too, especially due to the compromised values… The well done Ironman 1 / Cap 2 also had the chance to say something about the world but that´s not how that studio operates and he forgot V for Vendetta.

  5. Hey Doc are you going to do a breakdown of the latest Suicide Squad trailer eventually when you have time?

  6. @Heart of Steel Superman needs to be/stay the core of the universe for the DCU to make sense but having him be the eyes of the audience, as Ironman for example, won´t make much sense. Batman though is the perfect choice as he is the only human among the JLA, unless i count GL. (Batman even works with more genres…)

    Dan Jurgens reticently defended the lack of lines (43?) Superman had in Bvs (the same can be said about MoS) and said that he could image a Superman film in which he never speaks. I agree. Cavil´s facial acting is top of the line and actions speak louder than words if done correctly. The entirety of BvS should actual work with the 11/10 score alone, a bit like an opera. Say what you want about WB but they do take chances with their money.
    I do expect Superman to get the chance for an inspiring public speech after the JL if officially formed. I found it a bit noteworthy that Bruce and Diana blow off Supermans public funeral as a circus. The mourners were genuine in their feeling. The look around you scribbling are pure genius. Nihilistic movie my ass…
    I liked this version a bit more than his comic death in 92. It was more focused and a mutated Zod makes more sense than a random rage beast (New52 Doomsday was actually a virus btw.) but i love the all splash pages final battle.

    • True, I see your point. However I should clarify that I didn’t said that Batman wasn’t the “eyes of the audience” as you pointed out, I stated that both the core of the universe AND the eyes of the audience can be considered the protagonists, (assuming if they do fit your definition of the word “protagonist”) that’s one of the things, I believe, already makes the JLU unique. At least that’s how I interpret it so far.

      And I want to add that I too share the point of view of Mr. Jurgens, Superman having just some lines was never a dent to me. I recall the very first teaser and Comic-Con trailer when a few people complained about how Superman didn’t mustered a word. Is that really a negative? I never understood such complaints. Yet again, I never understood much of the MoS criticisms, and I don’t understand none of the BvS criticisms either.

    • Hi,

      This Ryan Gosling interview video explain better why you don need alot of dialogue

  7. Hi all,

    Another awesome article on batman v superman and is the personal one too especially for Muslim: http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/batman-v-superman-is-actually-a-good-depiction-of-the-american-muslim-experience

  8. Mad Max Fury Road or The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) basically prove that a proper film should be able to function without much or any talking. The same goes for the medium of comic books.
    The famous DC storyboard artist Jay Oliva did a top of the line job on BvS yet people complain why DC isn´t using the animation team on the life-action front. “Research”.
    “True fans” complain how for off the source materiel both film were but i can pin point the source panels for the films. The first 2 (aka. the good) Reeves films were further off base and so on…

    But the tone started to slightly change last week. The entertainment sites who copied and pasted articles on BvS´s historical failure, the “10+ mil dollar humor re-shoots” for SS and lack of legs now found out that the film actual HAS legs. The public is more responsive to the film than initially though and the series is here to stay. A noticeable section of such people are the readers of said sites (never piss off your customers!) and enough editors probably bothered to actually watch the film by now… and enough of them bothered to come to their own conclusion. We will see.


    from last year is pretty inserting/insightful. (I am 27 btw. and have been reading comic/manga for 20 years.)

    • But muh “superman is not a silent character”. At least this is a response I get when I addresses to them about superman lack of dialogue

  9. I was a bit premature with my hope for more rounded DC films examination by the online press it seems. Oh well.

    The actual loss of the unexperienced Flash director seems like good news to (he is staying in the WB family btw.), as we can only trade up and the unconfirmed Aquaman “news” will probably lead to nothing. Doubly so for the combined JL bash-down. I refuse to link to the original source. That site pure garbage…
    Wan is a dedicated A-level director and came to WB for the film. I further highly question birthmoviesdeath´s ethics (cough Gamergate supporters are virgins who “need to kill themselves” cough) and reliability. Another weekend dedicated to public shaming for WB it is.

    @Leon DC´s Simon Baz (a GL) is a well done American-Muslim and will get his own team up book soon. His backstory involves 9/11 shaming and Marvel´s Muslim characters, as the X-men Dust, aren´t shabby either.
    But muh favorite Superman is the one in “Superman for All Seasons”. He also let his supporting cast do the talking.

  10. Keira_The Extractor

    Another aspect of the movie that a lot of people criticize it the fact that Superman “doesn’t talk very much”, or that “this is more of a Batman movie, than a Superman one”. It’s true, Superman didn’t have as many lines, but I think it was done purposefully. Just look at how the movie unfolds: at every given chance, whether Superman speaks or not, someone else is either talking about him, or the entire frame focuses on him. Literally, everyone in the movie is discussing Superman, and we hear people’s different perspectives on the character: Bruce sees a dangerous alien, Lex sees a self-righteous megalomaniac; some analysts see him as a threat, some others see him as an average Joe trying to do good. Everyone projects certain characteristics onto Superman, whether they’re accurate or not. Superman has turned into a living Inkblot Test. From the moment he made his existence public, it’s no longer about who Superman believes he is – it’s about who *the world* believes Superman is. That is, until the end of the movie, where he makes it perfectly clear.

  11. Doc have you seen this article:

    Pop Sociology: An Explanation of Batman v Superman’s “Rotten” by Pedro Saez Williams

    I was wondering what you might think about it.

    • @ebg2465, thanks for the link, I’ve only skimmed it so far but it has interesting ideas. It’s an interesting diagnosis for the rejection but I’m more interested in how the tipping-point occurs in consensus for formerly rejected works, such as with posthumously appreciated artists or panned works becoming critical darlings after-the-fact. The article says criticism only speaks for whatever is the current consensus and thus ill-equipped to tackle sea changes, but I want to know how and when those sea changes in public / critical sentiment occur such that they can reevaluate the past.

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